San Mig Super Coffee Mixers eked out a hard-earned 77-76 win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday night and seize the initiative in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
SAN Mig made two big defensive stops in the endgame.
The Mixers took a commanding 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven finals series.
The Mixers trailed most of the way and couldn't make the baskets to put Rain or Shine away in the endgame, but twice reduced the Painters into throwing desperate jumpers from way, way out in their final possessions.
The last of those two Rain or Shine offensives ended with Jeff Chan missing a three-point try from a full step away from the three-point arc, allowing San Mig to win its second straight game in the series.
"What an awesome game. That (Game Three) was tough one to be a part off, but still, we were a bit shaky because it was a back and forth game," said San Mig coach Tim Cone, more relieved than anything else after the lowest-scoring Finals game in almost six years.
San Mig's offense may be wanting, but Cone couldn't be any happier with a defense that held Rain or Shine to just one field goal in the final four minutes.
Jervy Cruz's basket inside off Gabe Norwood's drop pass sliced San Mig's lead to 76-77 with 1:25 to go in the game, but both teams failed to buy another basket again in the game.
San Mig had an opportunity to extend the lead but James Yap airballed a long three-point heave from about 25 feet, giving the Elasto Painters the chance to grab the lead with about 10.6 ticks to go.
"We just kept finding ways to stay in the game, stay in the game, and down to the last few possessions," said Cone. "But I thought the guys played a little tired tonight."
The American mentor also commended big men Joe Devance and Marc Pingris.
Peter June Simon led San Mig Coffee with 14 points. Birthday boy Devance, who turned 32 on Wednesday, finished with four assists, 13 points and nine rebounds while Pingris had five assists to go with seven points and eight rebounds in another all-around effort.
Despite the victory, Cone warned that tired legs may finally be taking their toll on the Mixers, who had to go through a grueling Manila Clasico series against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the semifinals. “Guys showed a little fatigue tonight,” said Cone. “Gotta try to find our second wind.” Paul Lee led the Elasto Painters with 23 points, but couldn't get a clear look to the basket with Rafi Reavis covering him during the dying seconds of the match, leading to Chan's desperation three-point attempt.
Jervy Cruz also payed big with 10 points while Chan finished with 11 points. But bruising big man Beau Belga was limited to 6 points. Game 4 will be on Friday at the same venue.
San Mig 77 - Simon 14, Devance 13, Yap 13, Sangalang 12, Barroca 8, Pingris 7, Mallari 5, Reavis 4, Melton 1, De Ocampo 0.
Rain or Shine 76 - Lee 23, Chan 11, Cruz 10, Almazan 7, Belga 6, Rodriguez 6, Quinahan 5, Norwood 4, Tiu 2, Ibanes 2, Tang 0, Teng 0.
Quarterscores: 19-20, 38-39, 63-64, 77-76 --- with reports from Spin.ph
San Mig eked out Rain Or Shine in a game 3 squeaker, took a commanding 2-1 lead
Reviewed by Jay-R Bayon-on